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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Phone tones show explosive growth
Teenagers using mobile phones
Many young people change their ring tones every week
Sales of mobile phone ringtones are expected to rise 60% this year, said the Mobile Data Association (MDA).

An estimated 70m of ringtones will be sold in 2003 - up from 40m in 2002 - according to the MDA, a non-profit trade group.

Music company Universal told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the profit margin for recent Sugababes hit Round Round was larger on the ringtone than the single.

A ringtone, never mind how bad, can never be ironic. Please bear this in mind
Toby UK

Most pop hits are available to buy as mobile phone rings - as are other popular tunes such as TV themes - for between 1.50 and 3.50.

Many young mobile phone-owners change their ringtones regularly to keep up with the latest songs.

One young fan told Today "everyone's doing it - it's the latest thing to do" because it was "too boring" to keep the same ring.

Contrary to reports, the market for ring tones is not expected to overtake CD singles for some time yet.

The CD single market was worth 157m in 2002, more than double the expected market for ringtones in the coming 12 months.

But Steve Mayall, from trade publication Mobile Messaging Analyst, warned the music industry not to rely on ringtones.

Beyonce Knowles
1. XTM - Fly on the Wings of Love
2. Beyonce Knowles (above) - Crazy In Love
3. Blu Cantrell - Breathe
4. Coldplay - Clocks
5. Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
Source: Ringtones.co.uk

"It's a fact that piracy is definitely decimating the record industry at the moment and it's a fact that the ringtone business is starting to show quite healthy growth," he said.

"Whether or not ringtones will ultimately save the music industry remains an open question - but I think it is certainly helping."

Mark Stannard of ringtone seller Buongiorno Vitaminic said they were the latest gimmick to be big with children and teenagers.

Profit margin

"A lot of the things they used to do, like swapping football cards, have changed now to getting the latest ringtone, the best ringtone," he said.

Mike Short, chairman of the MDA, said improved technology has played a part in the popularity rise.

"What we have today are things called polyphonic ringtones, which some would say give you a mobile orchestra in your pocket," he said.

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